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Cruz's 2016 strategy focuses on turning out white voters

PORTSMOUTH, N.H. — Ted Cruz has mapped out a path to the White House that all but ignores the explosion of minority voters in America.

The Texas senator's general election strategy depends almost wholly upon maximizing turnout among millions of conservative white voters — mostly evangelical Christians and the white working class — who didn't participate in the last presidential contest.

At the same time, Cruz's team is banking on a sharp decline in black and Hispanic support for the 2016 Democratic nominee, whoever it is, returning to voter trends before Barack Obama shook up the electorate as the nation's first black president and won an overwhelming share of support from non-white voters.

It is a strategy that defies the conventional wisdom in the GOP that says the party can win the White House again only if it appeals to political moderates and non-white voters who are becoming a greater share of the voting-age population as each day passes.

"I'm an outlier," said longtime Cruz aide Jason Johnson, the chief architect of the Cruz playbook, which he concedes is not in line with modern-day Republican thinking.

Yet with overwhelming confidence born from a year of studying voter trends, Johnson insists the first-term Texas senator can win the general election by motivating a coalition of his party's most reliable supporters.

Many Washington Republicans warn that Cruz is simply too conservative to appeal to the wide swath of voters that typically decide general elections.

"They are just wrong about this," said Republican operative Matthew Dowd, who served as the chief political strategist for George W. Bush. "It is about both motivation and persuasion. You can't motivate your base and at same time turn off moderates and independents."

But Cruz this week repeatedly declared that his team assembled a coalition in Iowa that would translate into general election success.

"We saw conservatives and evangelicals and libertarians and Reagan Democrats all coming together," he said during a town hall-style meeting at a Portsmouth Toyota dealership.

Cruz's 2016 strategy focuses on turning out white voters 02/05/16 [Last modified: Friday, February 5, 2016 9:01pm]
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[Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images, 2017]